Fresh Air

Bill Gates Invests in Hydrogen-Powered Airplane Startup

byDan Robitzski
12. 16. 20

Gates is betting big on air travel powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Taking Off

Hydrogen-powered plane startup ZeroAvia just added some heavy hitters to its roster of financial backers.

The company closed its Series A funding round, in which investors including Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund gave a total of $21.4 million, Bloomberg reports. In addition, the U.K. government invested $16.6 million — all money that the company says will go toward finally making hydrogen fuel cells a viable replacement for fossil fuels.

Buckle Up

Aside from improving its fuel systems, the company’s goal with the money is to develop a 19-seat passenger plane powered by hydrogen-electric engines, according to Bloomberg.

While it would be a radical shift from today’s aviation industry, it’s not impossible — a ZeroAvia fuel cell powered a plane during a successful test flight in September. ZeroAvia hopes to sell those fuel cells to other airlines in 2023 while continuing to make them more powerful.


Clear Skies

It will be many years before hydrogen planes could entirely replace fuel-burning ones. That test flight in September entailed little more than an aerial loop around an airport, and ZeroAvia doesn’t expect to reach a flight range of 1,000 miles — still not nearly enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean — until 2030, Bloomberg reports.

But as hydrogen fuel improves, it could do the world a lot of good. In 2019, the aviation industry emitted over a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, according to Bloomberg. That’s a major source of pollution that hydrogen power could help make disappear.

READ MORE: Gates and Bezos Funds Back Hydrogen-Powered Plane Startup [Bloomberg]

More on hydrogen planes: Researchers Successfully Test Hydrogen-Powered Passenger Plane


Futurism Readers: Find out how much you could save by switching to solar power at By signing up through this link, may receive a small commission.

Share This Article

Copyright ©, Camden Media Inc All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Data Use Policy. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.